Almost all women are familiar with the symptoms of PMS, which causes cramps, bloating and tender breasts. However, an estimated 3 to 5 percent of menstruating women have PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Those with a family history of disorders such as depression and postpartum depression are at a greater risk. (Cleveland Clinic).
What is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?
This is an often debilitating condition that you could think of as an extreme case of PMS. While there are several similarities between PMS and PMDD, there are some dramatic differences, and understanding these differences is the key to receiving effective, timely treatment.
PMDD includes emotional symptoms such as:
- Extreme anxiety
- Extensive moodiness
- Marked sadness
PMDD involves having at least one of the above in addition to the symptoms of PMS. (Mayo Clinic).
Some women may think that they are just having a really bad case of PMS when there are actually more extensive underlying causes. We’ve successfully treated patients for PMDD, and it’s important for women to realize they do have options, and they do not have to endure the discomfort and anxiety of this condition.
What is the Difference Between PMS and PMDD?
The main difference between PMS and PMDD is that PMDD involves much more extreme symptoms which can include extensive mood swings, hopelessness and even serious depression. Women with PMDD not only have extreme versions of PMS symptoms, but they also demonstrate extensive behavioral and emotional issues that make it difficult for them to function in day-to-day life.
What Causes PMDD?
It’s not clear what the exact cause of PMDD is, but researchers believe that the hormonal changes involved in menstruation may contribute to the symptoms of mood disorders. In some people, these hormone changes can cause a deficiency in serotonin, a substance found in the brain that affects mood. In addition, PMDD tends to run in families, so there may be a genetic component. (Johns Hopkins).
How Can I Tell if I Have PMS or PMDD?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my period so bad that it interferes with my daily life?
- Do I have depression severe enough that it makes it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks?
- Am I more argumentative than usual?
- Am I so irritable that it causes extensive conflict with my friends, family or partner?
- Do these symptoms tend to get worse when I consume alcohol or caffeine?
How is PMDD Treated?
Before we diagnose you with PMDD, it’s important to make sure these symptoms are caused by the hormonal fluctuations of the period and not by an underlying condition such as depression. We’ll also evaluate you to ensure that your symptoms aren’t caused by other issues such as fibroids or endometriosis.
If you’re diagnosed with PMDD, there are several treatment options, including:
- Regulating emotional symptoms with antidepressants
- A class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be particularly effective in treating PMDD symptoms. Examples of SSRIs include Zoloft and Prozac.
- Taking birth control pills
- Limiting caffeine
- Avoiding alcohol
- Participating in stress management techniques
- Getting regular exercise
- Practicing meditation and yoga
While herbal remedies may help, we want to provide a word of caution: Herbal remedies are not regulated by the FDA. In addition, they may interact with other medicines you’re already taking. Before you start any herbal remedy, please speak with us.
PMDD Can Dramatically Affect Your Quality of Life
PMDD may be more common than you realize. The good news is we can help you. We’ve served thousands of area women of all ages and at all stages of their lives, helping them find solutions carefully tailored to fit their health care needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.